Virgin Galactic Holdings, the space travel company, has announced the first stage design-build of its high-speed aircraft, Mach 3, and signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Rolls-Royce to develop engine propulsion technology for its supersonic aircraft.
Mach 3, the Virgin Galactic high-speed jet will be designed to carry nine to 19 people cruising at an altitude of over 60,000 feet. The super-fast jet will travel at Mach 3 -- three times faster than the speed of sound.
Virgin Galactic has also announced a partnership with Rolls-Royce to design and develop engine propulsion technology for futuristic high-speed commercial aircraft like this one. Rolls Royce is known for its supersonic engine design and even powered the only civil-certified commercial aircraft (Concorde) capable of supersonic flight, which traveled at Mach 2.
A Dream Team to Build Mach 3
George Whitesides, Chief Space Officer, Virgin Galactic said, “We are excited to complete the Mission Concept Review and unveil this initial design concept of a high-speed aircraft, which we envision as blending safe and reliable commercial travel with unrivaled customer experience. We are pleased to collaborate with the innovative team at Rolls-Royce as we strive to develop sustainable, cutting-edge propulsion systems for the aircraft, and we are pleased to be working with the FAA to ensure our designs can make a practical impact from the start. We have made great progress so far, and we look forward to opening up a new frontier in high-speed travel.”
“We are excited to partner with Virgin Galactic and TSC to explore the future of sustainable high-speed flight,” said Rolls-Royce North America Chairman & CEO Tom Bell. “Rolls-Royce brings a unique history in high-speed propulsion, going back to the Concorde, and offers world-class technical capabilities to develop and field the advanced propulsion systems needed to power commercially available high-Mach travel.”
The Galactic speed aircraft has inputs from NASA. Earlier, NASA signed a Space Act Agreement with Virgin Galactic to collaborate on high-speed technologies.
The high-speed aircraft can be customized to include cabin layouts, or Business or First Class seating arrangements. The aircraft design also aims to help lead the way toward the use of state-of-the-art sustainable aviation fuel. The mission aims to be a pioneer in the adoption of this sustainable technology in supersonic aircraft and also act as a catalyst for the rest of the aviation community to follow.
The MCR now allows the team to progress to defining specific system architectures and configurations, and determining which materials to use in the design and manufacturing of the aircraft. The team will also work to address key challenges in thermal management, maintenance, noise, emissions, and economics that routine high-speed commercial flights would entail.
Mach 3 aircraft will take off and land like any other passenger aircraft and be expected to integrate into existing airport infrastructure and international airspace around the world.
Virgin Galactic is working with international regulatory communities to ensure compliance with safety and environmental standards. Virgin Galactic believes that working together with regulators and industry leaders such as Rolls Royce and Boeing will support the mission to broaden and transform global travel technologies, with a focus on customer experience.
Virgin Galactic is also developing a spaceflight system designed to offer customers a unique, multi-day, transformative experience. This spaceflight will include views of Earth from space and several minutes of weightlessness that will launch from Spaceport America, New Mexico.